Monday, February 25, 2008

Our grog debate hits the SMH

My letter on the subject was given the 'First Word' pole position in the Herald Letters on Saturday.

One Lynette Robinson got a reply published today citing the usual 'ugly boring streets full of people being harassed' view but of course none of my arguments are actually addressed. My pic shows a typical Cross crowd. No-one is being 'harassed'.

I have sent off a reply but I doubt they'll keep flogging that horse. I'll copy it below:

"Lynette Robinson's defense of the 'more venues = more violence' argument (Letters, February 25) fails to address any of the points I raised previously (February 23). Melbourne statistics about youth seeking treatment for alcohol problems have little to do with Kings Cross and might have many causes other than the large number of venues in Melbourne. If the youth involved are under 18, I would suggest they are not getting much of their grog from licensed premises in any case.

"The argument suffers from the very common post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy which assumes causality simply because two sets of figures have similar trends. This is not necessarily so, and my suggestion that the police focus on illicit drugs and sniffer dog deployment is actually worsening the problem shows there may be causes other than the raw number of venues.

"The argument also assumes that the demand for alcohol is infinitely elastic. I personally am not drinking any more than I did even though there are more venues, and I suspect that 'over-saturation' of venues in any precinct will make itself evident when some of them start failing for lack of patrons.

"I agree there is an ugly element in the crowds that visit our city on weekends and I can remember it always being so. But they are only a noisy minority and I think our younger generation, on the whole, are pretty impressive. Meanwhile young people will make mistakes and most learn from them, just like my generation did. Nannying them into silence is an error. And if I find a bit of vomit on the street on a Sunday morning I don't get into a tizz – I just walk around it."

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